To honor the tradition of the Tour of Flanders we now bring back our Guide to the most essential part of Sunday's race. Using the time-tested Wong-Baker Pain Scale, we rate the climbs of the Tour of Flanders. Much of the text -- as with the race -- remains the same (thanks Chris)! , though there are a total of 15 climbs this year, one less than 2009, two less than 2008. But even though there are fewer climbs how they are ordered them this year could make for an extremely tough race. Later today I'll go in depth on the big change but for now, let's have the overview. For more info see the all-in-one Roadbook from the official site. On the flip...
- Den Ast 132 kms
A new opening climb. Paved. Under a third of a kilometer, ramps of up to 12% on the cobbles, though it just averages 5.7% which makes up most of the slope. Like a round one opening jab from a heavyweight champion of the world: Nice to meet ya! Take this-whap! 1: hurts a little bit
- Kluisberg 165 kms
1.8 kilometers of paved madness... up to 14%, and 6.8% average. 2: hurts a little more
- Knokteberg 172 kms
1260 meters of fun! 7% average, 13% max. Paved. 2: hurts a little more
- Oude Kwaremont 179 kms
Ah, now things start heating up as we are well into the fist set of climbs. This climb, the first one that's cobbled. It's business time. The climb itself is the day's longest, 2.2 km, with 1500 meters of cobbled ramps topping 11%. 3: hurts even more
- Paterberg 183 kms
All of 360 meters... but averaging 13%, all on cobbles, maxing out over 20%. Right after the Oude Kwaremont. Not nice at all. 3: hurts even more
- Koppenberg 190 kms
Needs little introduction. One of the hardest climbs in the world of Cycling. As for numbers, 600 meters, 11.6% average, maxing at 22%. Some of the ugliest cobbles in Flanders, only recently deemed safe enough to ride. Guys will be walking. 5: hurts worst!
- Steenbeekdries 195 kms
By itself, this could rate a zero: 700 meters at a steady 6.7%. But all cobbles? So close on the heels of the Koppenberg and right before the Taalenberg? 3: hurts even more
- Taaienberg 197 kms
Really only about 200 meters or so of serious (15%, cobbled) climbing, but bunched closely with the last two entries here, that's enough. 4: hurts a whole lot!
- Eikenberg 203 kms
The Eikenberg itself features 1.1 km of all cobbles, averaging 6.2% and topping out at 10%. Not so bad on its own. The issue is the succession of climbs as this is the eighth climb in a row; none being more than 7 km after the last. A lot of guys will disappear in this stretch. 3: hurts even more.
- Molenberg 218 kms Under a half-kilometer, but ramps of 14% on the cobbles, which make up most of the slope. This used to be the first climb and like Den Ast this year, was all by itself with no other climbs around it. Not this year as it's the first of the second set of climbs. Riders will be panicking before this one and some big favorites will see their chances die right here. I'll throw up a post just on this climb later. 3: hurts even more.
- Leberg 225 kms
Hm, gotta wonder when the collective nerve of the pack will break. Oh it's broken. The short ramp here of 14% ain't nuthin, but it's paved, and the rest of this climb is mellow enough to produce a mere 4% grade. 2: hurts a little more
- Berendries 229 kms
The pressure will surely be on by now. Just under 1 km at a steady 7%, on pavement. 3: hurts even more
- Tenbosse 236 kms
455 m at 6.4%, paved. The race will be going so fast, the leaders might barely notice it. 3: hurts even more
- Muur - Kapelmuur 246 kms
Needs little introduction. 453 meters, over 9% avg. and 19.8% max. There will be blood. Due to the new order of the climbs, there's even more importance than usual on the Muur. 5: hurts worst
- Bosberg 250 kms
At this late in the game, everything freaking kills. Plus, urgency will be off the charts, and there's 3-400 meters of 11%. 4: hurts a whole lot